If you have a booger on your face, chances are, I’m going to tell you. I might say, “Hey, you have something hanging off your nose.” Or maybe I’ll silently hand you a tissue. But I’m not going to let you walk around town a minute longer with that booger on your face. Unless you are a toddler, in which case, booger wiping can be a lost cause.
Have you ever wondered what stops us from pointing out a small booger? What do we tell ourselves that allow us to remain booger bystanders? Here are some ideas:
It’s none of my business. Our culture teaches us to mind our own business. Humanity makes us concerned, connected, and curious about each other. Our culture shuts that down. Don’t stare. Your booger is none of my business.
Someone else will take care of it. Passing the buck to the next person is another way we weasel out of intervening on someone else’s behalf. We just assume someone else will do it. But if you won’t speak up, why would anyone else?
They might get mad if I tell them. Fear of anger is another reason we hold back from speaking up. Maybe you put the booger there on purpose. And now you’ll be mad that I pointed it out. Maybe you have a condition that makes your nose run all the time. And I’m going to stick my foot in my mouth by bringing it up. Maybe you don’t want strangers speaking to you about something so personal. And I’m willing to buy into that notion to keep myself comfortable.
They’ll eventually figure it out on their own. At some point, this person is going to look in the mirror and see the booger on their face. This is almost a certainty. And when they do, will they wonder whether it was there when they passed you by?
Why do I care about boogers so much? Because building a world where survivors of sexual violence can live to their full potential requires us to get off the sidelines and start connecting with each other. If you can’t tell someone they have a booger on their face, how can you intervene when you spot warning signs of sexual abuse or violence?
Do the world a favor. Shove a pack of Kleenex in your pocket today. And make the world a booger-free place.